Emmanuel Sanchez will be one half of Bellator 255’s headliner as he challenges Bellator double champ Patricio “Pitbull” Freire in a featherweight championship rematch in the division’s grand-prix semi-final.
Since losing to Pitbull in their first bout in 2018, which was also for the Bellator featherweight championship, Sanchez has been on a three-fight win streak. Sanchez gained two of those victories in the featherweight grand-prix.
Looking forward, Sanchez spoke candidly regarding Freire, along with his potential opponent in the finals of the featherweight grand prix, A.J. McKee.
“What I have in front of me is the two best fighters in the world in this organization. They have two accolades that I don’t,” Sanchez said. “[Freire] being a champ-champ who has a win over me and has been the greatest fighter in Bellator history, no. 1 pound-for-pound, and [McKee] has the longest win streak. Undefeated. Look at what a big star he has been in Bellator.”
Sanchez also reflected on his first loss to Pitbull, and how he looks forward to the potential of avenging his most recent defeat. He also spoke of their first fight scheduling which eventually fell out.
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“You can’t write a better story than me going out and avenging these losses that I’ve had. One, this man who had a win over me in 2018 and one, I lost the opportunity to take that undefeated record he had in 2016,” Sanchez said. “People forget that we were scheduled to fight many years ago. Now, I have this platform where a lot more is on the line and I’m grateful for it all.”
Sanchez then delved into a more analytical perspective regarding his main event bout with the reigning double champion Saturday night, discussing what he learned from their first fight.
“I learned in my fight against Pitbull that I can take his best shots. That I can handle his pressure. His speed. His ferocity. His tenacity. I know that I can overwhelm him with mine,” Sanchez said. “Of course he’s grown too and he’s watched our fight and my recent fights. It’s like two lions staring at each other across the watering hole knowing that we’re going to cross paths again. I’m sure after I defeat him, I know we will meet again.